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Can vitamins and supplements lead to death? According to recent news they can.

The death of Lori McClintock, the wife of US representative Tom McClintock is reportedly due to dehydration caused by “adverse effects of a white mulberry leaf ingestion”. We hate to say we told you so, but since the inception of Vous Vitamin in 2014 we have been warning people about the potentially harmful consequences of vitamins and supplements if taken improperly.

The dangers of these products are often overlooked as many people think they are “natural” and therefore can not cause harm. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many of these products are potentially dangerous. The FDA does not regulate vitamins and supplements as they do medicines.  Therefore there is little to no oversight in the manufacturing process. When products are taken off the shelf and analysed they are often found to contain substances listed on the labels. Likewise, many products (especially those that are herbal substances) do not contain much of the herbal substance. This of course makes one concerned about what actually is in the bottle.  Taking products that are certified with seals such as GMP or USP is one way to have assurance about the quality of the vitamins.

Not only can ingredients be falsified or misleading, but vitamins in their own right can be dangerous if taken improperly. Just like any medications, vitamins and supplements can cause harm if not taken correctly. For example, many vitamins if taken in excess can cause toxicity. Even Vitamin D, which is helpful to so many, if taken in excess can lead to many side effects including kidney stones, vomiting, constipation and even mental status changes or coma.  People also don’t often consider how vitamins may interact with each other or with other medications they may be taking.

So what do we think happened that lead to this woman’s death. Hard to say for 100 percent certain given the limited information in the media. However, it seems that she had some ill effects from this herbal supplement and it caused gastrointestinal issues that lead to severe and ultimately fatal dehydration.  While such an instance is rare, it is certainly not unheard of.  In fact a recent New England Journal of Medicine Review suggested that there are approximately 26,000 Emergency Room visits per year related to toxic effects of supplements. Read more about this in our book, The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. We actually wrote a whole chapter, entitled “Vitamin Horror Stories”.

White mulberry is touted as a supplement for weight loss. These products are particularly concerning as many contain illicit substances such as stimulants or other prescription drugs that can be extremely dangerous taken in this manner. Thus, especially avoiding anything that promises weight loss or extra energy is generally advised.

Hearing all of this,  and knowing about the above mentioned death may want to make you skip taking vitamins all together. However, that is also likely not in the best interest for your health. Most important is to figure out a proper and safe vitamin regimen for each person, based on their individual vitamin needs. We are not all the same and therefore we do not have the same deficiencies or needs.  A doctor created vitamin regimen is the best way to accomplish this. We created Vous Vitamin with this in mind. Our vitamin quiz is a great way to determine what your vitamins needs are and get a medically sound all in one daily vitamin.

 

Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health.  She is a mother of three teenagers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients.  After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take,  Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin quiz now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.

The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice.  The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment.  You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.

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